Only a small proportion of local authorities in England have put plans in place to ring-fence the money they will receive when the government shuts down the Independent Living Fund (ILF) next June, according to a new survey.
Just 10 of 106 local authorities that responded to Freedom of Information Act requests by Disability Rights UK (DR UK) said they planned to ring-fence the money for former ILF recipients.
Another 10 councils said they would ensure the funding was passed to their adult social care budget, but not necessarily to former ILF-recipients.
And 40 of the 106 local authorities have still not decided what they will do with the funding, even though the transfer is less than a year away, a delay that DR UK said would “just add to the anxiety felt by many ILF users”.
ILF is a government-resourced trust which helps about 18,000 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently, but the coalition plans to close it in June 2015 and pass the non-ring-fenced funding to local authorities.
Liz Sayce, chief executive of DR UK, said: “Our freedom of information inquiries to local authorities have found that most do not have robust plans to ring-fence resources for social care support to people who would have received ILF support.
“As human beings we all have rights to live where we choose, to participate in our community – but without support, disabled people are locked out of those basic rights and opportunities. This is completely unacceptable.”
DR UK said that ILF “has not been perfect” because it “only served some disabled people”, but that it opposed closure of ILF “unless and until an effective alternative approach is in place that really enables independent living of people with high support needs”.
DR UK said it was “very concerned that the closure of the ILF at this time will do nothing to ease the crisis in social care funding and will have a negative impact on many ILF recipients who are likely to see their support reduced or lost altogether”.
And it warned that some local authorities were not planning to re-assess ILF recipients to tell them what their care packages would be after the fund closed until early 2015, which it said would “add considerably to the anxiety already being felt by ILF users”.
7 August 2014